Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

Corporate gatekeepers and big tech monopolists are making it more difficult than ever for independent media to survive. Please chip in today.

A mob supporting then-President Donald Trump and his lie that the 2020 election was "stolen" storm the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. on January 6, 2021.

A mob supporting then-President Donald Trump and his lie that the 2020 election was "stolen" storm the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. on January 6, 2021. (Photo: Probal Rashid/LightRocket via Getty Images)

A Fragile Democracy

In short, the former president’s behavior was criminal.

César Chelala

For several decades, the United States was considered by many as a beacon of democracy around the world. No longer. The events of January 6 have shown that what was once considered a model of the rule of law is instead a fragile democracy, vulnerable to unpredictable events. What happened that day threatened the rule of law and the future of the country as a democracy to be emulated.

The import of the insurrection of January 6 and the events that preceded it have not yet been properly assessed. The country was at risk of collapse and we were not fully aware of it. It is as if part of the citizenry continues to suffer the effects of post-traumatic stress disorder, one of whose symptoms is trouble recalling an event too stressful to bear.

Who can blame those that want to ignore or forget? Something totally unprecedented had happened in the country. The president himself had staged a coup to overturn the election results and remain in power. In the process, the unruly mob threatened the lives of Mike Pence, his loyal-to-a-fault vice president, and scores of lawmakers who had to run and hide to avoid being maimed or killed by the mobsters. And while these events were happening the president himself and his entourage were following with glee the riots in the Capitol. It cannot get any sicker than this.

Not generally considered is what would have happened if instead of two people killed that day there would have been more (a third one died days later.) We all saw vice president Pence being hurriedly led to a security location by the secret service agents. What if he had been injured or killed? What is something serious would have happened to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi? In both instances, one can only anticipate an ensuing institutional chaos.

Of particular concern is that some members of Congress allegedly led some of the mobsters on a recognition visit of the Capitol before January 6, in effect conspiring with them to more effectively attack their own colleagues. This reveals a degree of human loathsomeness difficult to fathom.

These, however, were not isolated episodes. They are the culmination of a four-year process that began with the election of a notably defective candidate, known mainly as the host of a popular reality-style TV program coupled with an extravagant lifestyle. Donald Trump’s shortcomings were only unknown to those who either ignored or refused to believe the serious accusations of rape, cheating, abuse and illegal actions from a notorious psychopathic personality. Several prestigious psychiatrists from the Yale School of Medicine had warned about the dangers of a psychopathic personality in power, one of them being indescribably callous to the feelings and needs of others.

Trump’s personality shortcomings led to a most serious consequence: the inappropriate response to the coronavirus pandemic that has already cost more than a half a million lives. Most of those deaths could have been easily prevented by making the country aware of the seriousness of the pandemic, and immediately creating a task force to respond to the crisis. Their recommendations would be strictly followed, thereby establishing a rational national strategy to confront the pandemic and supply adequate resources to the states.

None of those conditions was followed, however, leading to the now well-known catastrophic results. Instead, we had a leader impervious to the needs of the people and the nation, who worsened an already critical situation by promoting false cures for the infection that led to even more preventable deaths. In short, the former president’s behavior was criminal.

Thus, the country that for centuries had developed a system of government and justice became a victim to the whims of a psychopathic personality who in the short period of four years threatened to destroy had-earned advances towards a democratic and pluralistic society. It shows that unless we are serious in restoring the values fundamental to its existence, we will become one of those countries south of the border pejoratively called “banana republics.”


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.
César Chelala

César Chelala

Dr. César Chelala is an international public health consultant, co-winner of an Overseas Press Club of America award and two national journalism awards from Argentina.

We've had enough. The 1% own and operate the corporate media. They are doing everything they can to defend the status quo, squash dissent and protect the wealthy and the powerful. The Common Dreams media model is different. We cover the news that matters to the 99%. Our mission? To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. How? Nonprofit. Independent. Reader-supported. Free to read. Free to republish. Free to share. With no advertising. No paywalls. No selling of your data. Thousands of small donations fund our newsroom and allow us to continue publishing. Can you chip in? We can't do it without you. Thank you.

Rights Group Urges Civilian Safeguards as Biden Sends Troops Back to Somalia

"A culture of impunity for civilian loss breeds resentment and mistrust among the population and undermines efforts to build a more rights-respecting state," Human Rights Watch's regional director asserted.

Brett Wilkins ·

Australian Progressives Hail 'Greenslide' Amid Big Left Wins and Morrison's Ouster

"People have backed the Greens in record numbers and delivered a massive mandate for action on climate and inequality," said party leader Adam Bandt.

Brett Wilkins ·

Omar Leads Charge Against Baby Formula Monopolies Amid US Shortage

Democrats urge the FTC to probe "any unfair or unsustainable practices, like deceptive marketing, price gouging, and stock buybacks, that may be weakening our nutritional formula supply."

Jessica Corbett ·

'Arbitrary, Racist, and Unfair': Judge Blocks Biden From Ending Title 42

"Only the coyotes profiteering off of people seeking protection have reason to celebrate this ill-reasoned ruling," said one migrant rights advocate.

Brett Wilkins ·

'This Is a War' for Democratic Party's Future, Says Sanders of AIPAC's Super PAC

"They are doing everything they can to destroy the progressive movement in this country," said the senator.

Julia Conley ·

Common Dreams Logo